As governments worldwide prepare to prune the subsidies that fostered the revival of wind power in the 1990s, the industry is at a tipping point. A scramble to cut costs is under way as developers seek the industry’s illusory ideal, where their wind turbines will be profitable without government support. That means a relentless drive to build vast machines farther offshore, where projects can be built on a scale large enough to transform their economics. One prototype turbine being developed by Siemens Gamesa, which could be in use within four years, will be 984ft tall, nearly as high as London’s Shard skyscraper, and fitted with blades 650ft across. Windmills may be centuries old, but the technology used to build these new structures, way offshore and reliable enough to keep producing power for decades in extreme conditions, is testing some of the world’s brightest scientists. Taller, lighter turbines harness more wind and benefit from faster speeds at higher altitude, generating electricity more cheaply. Another cost of building secure foundations by driving piles into the seabed is also reduced because fewer turbines are needed. Siemens Gamesa’s new turbines could each generate up to 15 megawatts of electricity, almost double the amount that can be produced by today’s biggest machines, which generate 8MW.
Times 29th June 2017 read more »